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Inwood Rezoning Will Plunge Existing Buildings Into Shadows, Owners Fear

By Carolina Pichardo | August 12, 2016 4:22pm | Updated on August 19, 2016 8:08am
 Locals said the agency's greenlit tentative plans for newly constructed towers along Broadway will plunge existing buildings at the top of Park Terrace East into darkness.
Locals said the agency's greenlit tentative plans for newly constructed towers along Broadway will plunge existing buildings at the top of Park Terrace East into darkness.
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INWOOD — A proposed neighborhood rezoning plan could leave existing apartments in the shadows, local co-op owners warned the city during a meeting this week.

The city's Economic Development Corporation came under fire during a meeting at The Allen Hospital at 5141 Broadway Wednesday night to discuss the controversial rezoning plan slated for Inwood within the next year.

Specifically, locals said, the agency's tentative plans could allow new towers to rise along Broadway — plunging existing buildings along Park Terrace East into darkness.

“In plotting out building heights on Broadway, EDC neglected to notice that Park Terrace East is a steep uphill grade from W. 218th St. going south,” said Gerard Dominach, a member of the co-op group Inwood Owners Coalition, which launched in 2014 to focus on quality-of-life issues.

“This is a problem for buildings at the bottom of Park Terrace East,” Dominach added, explaining that the EDC should reduce the maximum height of any proposed new buildings in the area and focus on improving the corridor instead of paving the way for "a tunnel of high-rises."

Jackie Parrot, who has been living in the community for nearly two decades, said she was also concerned about zoning changes that could add large-scale residences along Broadway.

“I understand that certain change is inevitable in New York City, but the looming possibility of thousands of new units in Inwood will forever change our quality of life and our access to public services that are already overtaxed in our district,” she said.

Not only are the area's parks, schools and public transportation overcrowded and underfunded, but the NYPD's 34th Precinct is also struggling to keep pace with limited resources, Parrot said.

"Where will additional school space be found for new residents' children? What are the preemptive plans to ensure that Inwood’s quality of life doesn't disappear entirely?”

But not everyone was opposed the new project.

Brendan MacWade, who owns a co-op on Park Terrace East with his wife, said although the project should be revised, there are parts of Inwood that should be rezoned.

"We're being held back by very old zoning," MacWade said, adding that the value of his property has remained the same for 10 years. "If only for public access to the Harlem River, I support rezoning. It's the last undeveloped coastline."

Richard Tatum, who has been living Uptown with his wife for more than 20 years, said that shouldn’t be the case.

He purchased his home in Inwood and realizes that more luxury buildings will increase his property value, but that this isn’t the reason he moved to the neighborhood.

“Our apartment’s worth, I’m sure it’s going to double,” he said. “But I don’t want that. That’s not why we're here. We love Inwood. We love the diversity in the neighborhood, and that’s going to go away.”

The Inwood NYC Planning Initiative project has held more than a dozen local workshops and presentations for the community since fall 2015. They've also held an ongoing working group throughout the summer, made up of stakeholders including Centro Altagracia de Fe y Justicia, Friends of Inwood Hill Park, Friends of Sherman Creek, Inwood Owner's Coalition, Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, National Supermarket Association, Church of St. Jude, and Washington Heights Business Improvement District.  

EDC officials said residents will have from now until September 2017, when the ULURP process wraps up, to provide feedback and suggest changes to the plan. 

“The community-based, open planning process provides the City the opportunity to better understand the concerns and priorities of Inwood residents, and to have honest conversations like the one we had tonight," said Adam Meagher, the EDC's Vice President of Development. "This plan is not finished – it can and should continue to evolve, and there is ample time left in the process for more community participation. We take their opinions on building heights along Broadway, and other important issues, very seriously and will weigh them carefully as we move forward.”

The agency said it will continue to organize events and workshops with the community in the coming months to further explain the project.